Quebec’s Construction Industry

On June 21, the Competition Bureau released details of an investigation that was conducted in concert with the Sûreté du Québec’s Corruption Investigations Unit (Unité permanente anticorruption or “UPAC”), which was set up by the Government of Quebec in 2011. The investigation has led to a total of 77 charges against eleven individuals, two of which are municipal officials, and nine companies in the construction industry. The Bureau and UPAC uncovered an alleged "scheme of collusion, breach of trust and corruption" that began in 2007, allegedly giving preferential treatment to a group of contractors for lucrative municipal contracts, mainly for infrastructure projects in the Saint‐Jean‐sur‐Richelieu region.

Among the criminal charges laid were charges of corruption in municipal affairs, breach of trust, influencing a municipal official, extortion and conspiracy, as well as bid‐rigging charges under the Competition Act.

The Bureau’s press release can be found here.

Bid‐Rigging Charge in Ventilation Sector

In another bid‐rigging case, an individual was charged for his alleged role in rigging bids for a private sector ventilation contract for a residential high‐rise building in the Montréal area. The first charges were laid in December 2010, as a result of a Bureau investigation that allegedly uncovered evidence of secretly coordinated bids by several companies specializing in ventilation, air conditioning and heating services. So far eight companies and six individuals have been charged.

The Bureau’s press release can be found here, and its announcement at the time charges were laid in 2010 can be found here.

Colmatec Inc. Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging

On June 22, Colmatec Inc. (“Colmatec”) and its operations director, Mr. Rénald Drouin, pleaded guilty for their role in a conspiracy to rig bids to obtain municipal contracts for specialized sewer services in the Province of Quebec. Colmatec agreed to pay a fine of $50,000 and is subject to a court order. Mr. Drouin agreed to perform 100 hours of community service and is subject to probation for a period of two years.

The guilty pleas come as part of a larger investigation commenced by the Competition Bureau in 2009, resulting in bid‐rigging charges in November 2011 against six companies and five individuals. Given that the bid‐rigging activities took place before the amendments to the Competition Act came into force in March 2009, the accused companies and individuals face a less severe penalty, a possible prison sentence of up to 5 years and/or a fine at the discretion of the court, as opposed to a fine at the discretion of the court and/or a prison sentence of up to 14 years, as provided in the amended bid‐rigging provisions of the Competition Act.

The Bureau’s press release can be found here.